Sarah Oliver, PhD

Director, Counseling

I approach counseling with an emphasis on the therapeutic relationship and the power of empathy. We all seek to be understood in a meaningful way. The ability to be truly understood by a caring other can be an amazing vehicle for change. My personal satisfaction stems from seeing others grow and learn in an effort to live well, not just survive. I use a variety of ideas, theories, and techniques to empower students to identify areas for growth and potential barriers.

My primary goal as Director of Counseling is to serve those who are struggling while creating a non-judgmental setting where difficult issues can be discussed. The Counseling staff seeks to create a safe environment in which students can take the emotional risks necessary to achieve their desired goals. The Counseling Office also seeks to be a strong partner to various campus entities to assist in the success of St. Ambrose students.

Education and Training

  • PhD, Institute for Clinical Social Work Clinical Social Work, with focus on Veterans and Military
  • MSW, University of Iowa
  • BS, Grand Valley State University

Clinical Background

My previous counseling work has focused on complex mental health issues that individuals face. I consider myself an expert in the areas of Veterans, trauma, homelessness, substance abuse issues and have worked with individuals, couples and families. Prior to this I worked in a community mental health setting where I became familiar with a variety of issues that individuals face including adjusting to new life circumstances.

I have worked for a government institution providing care to this population for the last 17 years and feel this experience in helping individuals manage transition of life and trauma has been invaluable. I have worked with a wide variety of individuals with diverse backgrounds. My training and experience has uniquely positioned me to assist students with life transitions. I look forward to meeting and working with students on campus.

So, what's next?

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